706 Travel Policies
 

Troy University Travel Policies have been developed in accordance with Alabama law and Internal Revenue Service regulations. These policies cover University employees, students and any others who travel on approved, official University business.

Travel and related costs represent a significant expenditure to Troy University. These expenses are essential to the maintenance and growth of the University and need to be carefully planned and controlled. Before undertaking any travel, you should ensure the University’s mission could not be accomplished more efficiently by alternative methods, such as telephone calls, e-mail, fax, telephone or video conferencing.

It is Troy University’s policy to reimburse employees for reasonable and necessary authorized expenses incurred and directly connected with the performance of their duties.

All official travel should be prudently planned so the best interests of Troy University are served at the most reasonable cost. Anyone traveling on University business is expected to exercise the same economy a practical person would exercise when traveling on personal business.

Excessive costs or unjustifiable costs are not acceptable and will not be reimbursed. It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure travel is properly authorized, travel expenses comply with policy and reimbursement claims are supported with the required receipts and documentation.

An employee in travel status is only approved for reimbursement of their own travel expenses. Travel expenses paid for by the employee on behalf of another employee will not be reimbursed.  If multiple employees are traveling on the trip, each employee must pay their own travel costs and request reimbursement separately.

Upon returning from official travel, the traveler must provide original, detailed receipts for reimbursement of any travel expenses which require documentation including meals, lodging, airfare, car rental, gasoline, parking or any other eligible out-of-pocket expenses. When claiming reimbursement related to conference attendance, a copy of conference documents showing the date(s) and time(s) of the event must be submitted along with the reimbursement request to support the length of travel requested.

In accordance with Internal Revenue Service accountable plan rules, requests for reimbursement of official travel and other out-of-pocket expenses must be submitted within a reasonable period of time, which is generally defined as 60 days from the date of travel or the date the expense was incurred.  Requests for reimbursement received after 60 days are taxable as wages and will be subject to applicable withholding.  Taxes for taxable reimbursements will be withheld from a subsequent payroll payment.

Prior approval is required for all overnight University business travel and must be supported with a properly completed and approved University Travel Approval Form.

Approved: February, 2018
OPR: Finance and Business Affairs

706.1 Instate Travel

If you travel overnight within the state on official business, you must claim per diem as required by state law. The per diem covers lodging, meals, and tips. No receipts are required.

University purchasing cards should not be used for in-state travel because per diem must be claimed in lieu of actual expenses.  The daily per diem covers lodging, meals and tips.  No receipts are required.  Effective July 1, 2018, the reimbursement rate is $85 per day for travel that requires one overnight stay and $100 per day for travel that requires a stay of two or more nights. For example:

- an individual who travels in-state and spends one night away from home will receive $170 ($85 x 2) per diem to cover lodging, meals and tips

 - an individual who travels in-state and spends two consecutive nights away from home will receive $300 ($100 x 3) per diem to cover lodging, meals and tips.

When an overnight stay is not included, the reimbursement rate for meals during in-state travel is: $11.25 for trips of 6-12 hours; $30 for trips over 12 hours in length. Payments to individuals for the meal per diem when the travel does not require an overnight stay are taxable income to the individual per IRS guidelines.

If you elect to claim less than the established per diem rates, please note this on your reimbursement request.

Exception to Per Diem Requirement for In-state Travel

As established in the Code of Alabama 1975, 36-7-21, employees traveling within the state of Alabama to attend a convention, conference, seminar or other meeting of a state or national organization of which the state or individual is a dues-paying member may be reimbursed for their actual expenses for meals and lodging in addition to the actual expenses for transportation. In-state travel authorized under this section is subject to the same requirements as non-in-state travel for TROY employees.

706.2 Out of State Travel

For overnight trips out of state, you will be reimbursed for the actual cost of meals, including tips, up to $31 per day without receipts. If actual meal expenses exceed $31 per day, you may be reimbursed for actual out-of-pocket meal costs if itemized receipts are provided for each meal claimed and the meal cost is reasonable.

Lodging is reimbursed at the actual single room rate, and an itemized receipt is required.  Other charges which may appear on lodging receipts such as television, movies/games, personal phone calls, laundry service, room insurance, safes, late checkout fees, room upgrades or miscellaneous charges will not be reimbursed.  Meal charges on loading receipts will only be reimbursed with an itemized receipt attached.

When you do not stay overnight, the reimbursement rate for meals is: $11.25 for trips of 6-12 hours; $30 for trips over 12 hours in length. Reimbursement to travelers for meal per diem when the travel does not require an overnight stay are taxable income to the individual per IRS guidelines.

706.3 Foreign Travel

The rules used for out-of-state travel also apply for foreign travel. The per diem rules for out-of-state travel also apply for foreign travel. Receipts are not required for foreign taxi, subway or local bus services. Itemized receipts are required for all other allowable expenditures.

All travel from the United States to an international destination must be approved by the Chancellor in advance.

Receipts in foreign currency should be converted to US dollars.  The currency conversion rate should be noted.

706.4 Air Travel

Airline reservations are the traveler’s responsibility and are to be made through the traveler’s department. Reimbursement will be made at the lowest logical standard or discounted rate for the period of business travel. The travel itinerary, proof of payment, and any other documentation provided by the airline are required for reimbursement of airfare. In order to be reimbursed for air travel, you must use Christopherson Business Travel as your travel agent. This group has been selected to meet the needs of the University and is aware of travel regulations.  The group will assist you in the best manner possible. For air travel which originates from a point outside the United States, you may use an alternate travel agent or an online booking engine.

All employees will use economy/coach class for all air travel. Reimbursement for an upgraded airfare will be made only when a supporting statement is provided by the airline or travel agency stating no lower rate was available.  Air travel booked using frequent flyer miles will not be reimbursed.

All airfare arrangements should be charged to the traveler’s university purchasing card, if available, or the traveler’s individual credit card. No billing options are available from the travel agency.

Exchanging tickets, downgrading classes, or making other arrangements with a company-provided airline ticket for personal benefit is prohibited. Cash allowances or companion tickets will not be given in lieu of company-provided airline tickets.

Reasonable baggage fees will be reimbursed with appropriate receipts.

Airline tickets purchased using a personal credit card may be reimbursed in advance of travel with appropriate documentation, including the travel itinerary, proof of payment and an approved Travel Approval Form.

Change fees are generally not reimbursable unless the trip was changed/cancelled for a business-related purpose.

For the most current rules and regulations regarding air travel, visit the web site for the Transportation Security Administration.

Approved: February, 2018
OPR: Finance and Business Affairs

706.5 Travel by private Vehicle

The current state mileage rate is 54.5¢ per mile (effective 1/1/18). That covers all vehicular costs, including tolls, repairs, and fuel.

Mileage reimbursement is based on the shortest distance between the employee’s official work base and the destination or the employee’s home and the destination, as reflected on Google Maps or similar website.

If there are multiple stops for official business while in travel status, each leg of the trip must be documented and mileage provided.  The University will only reimburse mileage which is required to conduct official business.  Trips made in-between official stops for personal reasons will not be reimbursed.

Troy University does not reimburse mileage from an employee’s residence to their official work base.

Vicinity mileage within the city limits of a campus or site is not reimbursable.

706.6 Rental Vehicles

Vehicle rentals must be booked through the University’s current preferred/approved vendor listed on the TROY Purchasing Department’s website.  Shuttles or taxi services should be used when available for transportation to and from airports.

Rental vehicles may be used if approved by the employee’s supervisor. For reimbursement, attach the paid, itemized receipt to your travel voucher. Tolls and gas charges will be reimbursed. Itemized gas receipts are required.

706.6.1 Insurance for Rental/Personal Vehicles

Anyone renting a vehicle on University business within the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico SHOULD NOT take out insurance through vehicle rental agencies. The University's policy covers comprehensive or collision damage claims to rental vehicles used for Troy University business. Before renting a vehicle, employees should request a Certificate of Insurance from Human Resources.  This certificate must be presented to the car rental agency at the time of rental in order to be covered under the University’s auto insurance policy.

Insurance coverage SHOULD be obtained when renting a vehicle outside the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico.

706.7 Reimbursement for Using University-Owned Vehicles

Employees traveling or working on official University business may have access to fleet cars, vans or trucks.  Only itemized out of pocket expenses for gasoline and necessary repairs will be accepted for reimbursement when using a University-owned vehicle. University-owned vehicles should not be used for personal travel.

706.8 Travel by Taxi, Bus, Train or Local Conveyance

Travel by taxi, bus, train or other local conveyance within the United States is reimbursable when receipts are provided.  Travel by foreign taxi, bus, train or other foreign conveyance is reimbursable without receipts.  Such transportation must be limited to travel between official stations, transportation terminals, places of lodging and/or places of University business.  The to/from destination(s) should be listed for each trip.

706.9 Student Team/Group Travel

There are two methods for paying for student team/group travel. One is to reimburse each student separately. The other method advances money to the coach/advisor with the coach/advisor responsible for reconciling expenses after the trip.

To obtain advanced funds for student team travel:

706.9.1 Request. At least 10 days prior to travel submit a request (payable to the group coach/advisor) to Accounts Payable for a student team/group travel advance. A list containing the travelers (students and coaches/advisors), the purpose of the trip, the itinerary and the amount requested must be shown.

706.9.2 Reconciliation. Within 10 days after completion of the trip the coach/advisor should submit a detailed reconciliation (expense report) with authorized signature(s) to Accounts Payable. The reconciliation should include itemized receipts for all expenditures and follow the University's guidelines for expenditure limits.

For student team/group travel only, students may be given a cash meal allowance rather than submit receipts for individual meals. In such cases, students must sign a verification receipt to confirm receipt of funds. Meal allowances should be based on meal per diem rates.

If the coach/advisor pays for meals for the group, appropriate receipts must be attached. The meal receipts must be itemized. Lodging and transportation follow standard University policies. If the coach/advisor spent less than the amount advanced, the remaining funds should be deposited in Student Financial Services no later than the next business day following return. A copy of the TROY Cashier’s Office receipt should be submitted with the reconciliation. If the coach/advisor spent more than the amount advanced, a Miscellaneous Reimbursement Form should be attached to the reconciliation.

706.10 Entertainment Policy Including Guest meals, Business meals, Receptions, Gifts, and Flowers

These policies and procedures reflect Troy University policies for entertainment related expenses. The Troy University Foundation (the “Foundation”) has separate policies established for the use of Foundation funds in similar circumstances. Employees should contact the Troy University Foundation Accounting Office for specific and/or additional information about Foundation policies and procedures.

706.9.1 General

It is understood the business of the University requires some expenditures of an entertainment nature. It is the desire of the University, however, to place this activity in proper focus, to prevent abuses, and to issue guidelines for these expenditures. In all cases however, there must be a clear, documented, business purpose for the event/expenditure which indicates the event's benefit to the University. This policy is intended to be neither all-inclusive nor to address every situation which may arise.

In general, State laws and regulations expressly prohibit the University from spending University funds on: alcohol; spouse meal and travel expenses; tickets to athletic and cultural events; and expenses associated with social events.

Except for meals and refreshments incidental to business meetings, food and beverages for employees are considered to be personal in nature and therefore unallowable costs. This applies to costs incurred on all University funds, including departmental funds, gift funds and/or sponsored funds.

From an IRS perspective, for meals and entertainment to qualify as a business expense, they must be ordinary and necessary and not lavish and/or extravagant and must be directly related to or associated with the University's mission. In addition, a TROY employee must be present at the meal/event for it to meet the IRS business expense regulations. Because the IRS imposes strict substantiation/documentation requirements on such expenditures, the University must be able to provide the following documentation on such expenses:

  • Amount
  • Date, time, and place
  • Business purpose served by the expenditure
  • Business relationship to the University of each person in attendance
  • Full Agenda

706.10.2 Sponsored Agreements

Federal regulations indicate, in general, meals charged to sponsored agreements are unallowable. For a meal to qualify as an allowable expense, it must be integral to the conduct of the sponsored project. Please keep in mind, simply scheduling a meeting at mealtime does not automatically make the meal integral to the project. In addition, OMB Uniform Guidance, which dictates Federal cost principles for educational institutions, requires the type of expenses addressed in this policy be captured separately as they are generally considered unallowable. Therefore, appropriately coding such expenditures is required. Questions and/or policy clarification related to meal and entertainment charges on sponsored agreements should be directed to Sponsored Program Accounting.

In addition, as with all contract or grant funds expenditures, it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure all expenditures are made in accordance with all applicable contract or grant restrictions. In considering incurring expenses such as those addressed in this policy, PI's should keep in mind the more restrictive policy/contract terms or budget (TROY vs. contract/grant) will prevail. Thus, if the contract terms are more liberal than TROY policy, the more restrictive policy (TROY) will be enforced.

For more information, please refer to ePolicy section 702 Grants & Contracts Policy or contact Sponsored Program Accounting for further guidance.

706.10.3 Meals

Expenses for meals other than those incurred while on travel status can fall into two broad categories: business meals and guest meals.

It is the responsibility of the department to ensure a meal is allowed before going forward with planning.  If in doubt, please contact Accounts Payable for guidance.  Expenses for meals which do not meet the State of Alabama Attorney General’s ruling and/or the IRS’s standards for documentation are the responsibility of the individual who incurs the expense.

706.10.3.1 Business Meals

By definition, business meals would include meals provided during business meetings involving the following: only University employees during normal working hours when allowed by State law; persons being compensated by Troy University via a professional service (PSC) or other contract; meals served during/associated with advisory council type meetings; meals at Troy University hosted/sponsored conferences/meetings/seminars; and meals provided to students while on campus or traveling in conjunction with executive degree programs.

University funds can be used to provide meals and/or refreshments at business meetings when the meals are directly related to the business of the entity, and the meals and refreshments are incidental to the meeting. In order for meals to be an incidental part of the meeting, the primary purpose of the gathering must be to have an official meeting at which business is conducted, not a social gathering at which food is provided and must extend through a normal mealtime.  When the meal is incidental, it is expected the group will continue through the agenda with little or no interruption and the meal is provided for the sake of continuity. Under no circumstances should a business meeting begin or end with a meal.  Planning a meeting at mealtime does not make the meal integral to the meeting.

Meals and refreshments may be provided when a meeting lasts all day and participants work through lunch or when an examination lasts all day and participants are not allowed to leave the area.

While business meals/refreshments are allowable in some cases, the expense and frequency should be kept to a minimum to ensure prudent use of public funds. Meals or refreshments provided for a gathering comprised solely of University employees is discouraged unless there is a clear business purpose and extenuating circumstance requiring the meeting to continue through a traditional mealtime and beyond. Such business meals should be infrequent and should generally be served at the meeting site.

Meals or refreshments incidental to a business meeting which involves substantive business discussions and include primarily only Troy University employees may be provided if, for reasons of continuity, the meeting extends through a traditional meal time period and beyond. Documentation requesting payment/reimbursement of business meals while in travel status must include all of the following:
  • Guest list of all in attendance which denotes each participant's association with Troy University
  • Itemized bill (credit card receipt only is not sufficient)
  • Detailed statement of the business purpose
  • Full agenda which includes time and location of the meeting
  • Documented business purpose
  • Documented extenuating circumstance which requires the employees to remain in the meeting area through a regular mealtime and beyond

706.10.3.2 Guest Meals

Guest meals are defined as those meals provided to distinguished guests, interviewees and persons visiting TROY during the course of Troy University business when at least one non-Troy University employee is present. There must be a documented business purpose (must meet IRS ordinary and necessary criteria) and need for business to extend into a traditional meal time. The cost of the meal must be reasonable, not lavish or extravagant, and the number of Troy University employees present to entertain the guest should be kept to a minimum. The expenses for spouses in attendance and/or alcohol served cannot be charged to University funds. Guest meals are limited to actual expenses up to a total of $60/day per guest.

Meals served during interview situations, for guest lecturers, visiting scholars and other distinguished guests of the University are considered guest meals and are limited to actual expenses up to $60/day per person. The number of University employees participating should be kept to a minimum.

Documentation requesting payment/reimbursement of guest meals must include all of the following:

  • Guest list of all in attendance which denotes each participant's association with TROY
     
  • Itemized bill (credit card receipt only will not be sufficient)
     
  • Detailed statement of the business purpose
Some expenses associated with entertaining/guest meals may be allowable, with prior approval and confirmation of funding availability, from Foundation funds when not appropriate from University funds. For instance, in interview situations, meal expenses for a Troy University employee spouse can be paid/reimbursed as a non-taxable expense through the Foundation when the interviewee's spouse is also in attendance at the meal. However, such entertainment/guest meal costs will only be covered by the Foundation when IRS business purpose criteria are met (ordinary and necessary), expenses are reasonable, and not lavish or extravagant. Such expenses are limited to actual expenses up to $60/day per person.

706.10.4 Receptions

Expenses associated with Retirement Receptions may not be paid using University accounts. Departments choosing to host a meal rather than a reception for a retiring employee may not use University funds to do so.

Meals and/or receptions for employees are considered personal in nature and may not be paid using University funds.

706.10.5 Coffee Break & Refreshment Supplies

Supplies for coffee breaks, office refreshments, etc....are considered personal and may not be purchased with University funds. See the Foundation Policy for their policies on such expenses. Refreshments for business meetings which meet the business purpose test may be purchased using University funds if documentation supporting the business nature of the purchase and subsequent use is provided.

706.10.6 Other Functions

Expenses associated with seasonal gatherings/meals, birthday/wedding/baby celebrations, employee departures and social gatherings (even if for morale building purposes) are considered to be personal in nature and may not be paid using University funds.

706.10.7 Flowers, Invitations & Greeting Cards

Flowers purchased for decorative purposes for official Troy University business functions may be paid for using University funds. Flowers for any other purpose including corsage/boutonnieres for retirement functions, flowers for ill/deceased TROY employees/donors/friends etc... may not be purchased with University funds.

A Courtesy Committee is in place for University employees who voluntarily choose to participate. Documented guidelines as far as what types of contributions and other memorials are acceptable are maintained and enforced by the Courtesy Committee members..

The cost of printing and mailing invitations to official Troy University business functions may be paid using University funds. The cost of greeting and/or seasonal cards may not be charged to University funds.

706.10.8 Gifts, Plaques & Framing

Gifts, or anything which might be perceived as a gift, including items given as a thank you for services provided, etc... cannot be purchased using University funds.

Plaques and/or framed artwork purchased for permanent display on a University owned building wall, may be charged to University funds. All others may NOT be charged to University funds unless awarded through a documented competitive process. Written criteria for award and the selection process must be provided with reimbursement/payment request.

706.10.9 Donations

University funds cannot be used to make a donation to any outside agency/institution or other groups.

706.10.10 Exceptions

Any exception to travel policies in 706 must be authorized by the Chancellor. However, rules promulgated by the State of Alabama have precedence.

Approved: February, 2018
OPR: Finance and Business Affairs